Friday, November 13, 2009

Promoting Safe Sex in Niger

In Niamey, Niger high school students were asked to participate in an essay contest. They had a choice of two topics; what kind of moral support to offer a friend that finds out they are HIV positive or what advice to give to someone that does not practice birth spacing. The contest was directed to inform the youth about safe and responsible sex. It allowed the facilitators to determine how informed the Niger youth were about sexually transmitted diseases and opened the dialogue for those that wanted to become more informed. Many claim that this exercise was a good experience and that there needs to be more opportunities to discuss these issues. Many students claimed that they learned a lot from participating in the contest, anywhere from what they should do to prevent HIV to how to help a friend. The HIV infection rate in Niger is .7, and 97% of women have never had an HIV test before. Other problems lie in that people are sexually active very early, most before 15, which leads to many problems when there is little education about sexually transmitted diseases especially to children so young. This contest received over 500 applicants from Niger's capital and in total was seen as a success as a learning tool advocating for education about such issues.

-Sara Frodge